Where do I even start. BuzzFeed News got its hands on a bunch of emails and documents from white nationalist troll Milo Yiannopoulos, and they’re disgusting.
Yiannopoulos was the tech editor for Breitbart, until he resigned after seemingly condoning pedophilia.
It’s an epically long read, so let’s break it down, shall we? Here are the main take-aways from the story BuzzFeed ran on Thursday:
Men in tech media corresponded with Milo
Here are the “respectable” men who associate with Yiannopoulos.
1. Dan Lyons: The former Forbes senior editor wrote on two seasons of HBO’s Silicon Valley, a sitcom about the egalitarian wonderland that is the tech industry. He reportedly corresponded with Milo several times about GamerGate, which was supposedly about “ethics” in gaming journalism, but was really about misogynistic trolls harassing women.
According to BuzzFeed, he “emailed Yiannopoulos (‘my little troublemaker’) periodically to wonder about the birth sex of Zoë Quinn, another GamerGate target, and Amber Discko, the founder of the feminist website Femsplain, and to suggest a story about the public treatment of the venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale, who had been accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit that the plaintiff eventually dropped.”
This did not come to a shock to some women in the industry.
Kumail Nanjiani, one of the stars of Silicon Valley, weighed in later on Twitter.
2. Mitchell Sunderland: Seriously, WTF. He’s a senior staff writer for Broadly, which is Vice‘s channel meant to “provide a sustained focus on the issues that matter most to women.”
In a May 2016 email, according to BuzzFeed, he asked Milo to “Please mock this fat feminist” — referring to Lindy West, from Jezebel, the New York Times, and other publications.
A Vice spokesperson told Mashable, “We are shocked and disappointed by this highly inappropriate and unprofessional conduct. We just learned about this and have begun a formal review into the matter.”
3. David Auerbach: The former Slate tech writer, according to BuzzFeed, once passed Milo “background information about the love life of Anita Sarkeesian,” who was bombarded with threats and insults during GamerGate for the sin of pointing out sexist tropes in video games.
4. Vivek Wadhwa: The tech entrepreneur and fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering also reportedly connected with Yiannopoulos, once to complain about a boycott of a Kickstarter game. He also complained about the backlash Y-Combinator cofounder Paul Graham got over an essay about gender inequality, saying political correctness “has gone too far. The alternative is communism — not equality.”
When contacted by Mashable, Wadhwa said, “A lot of this is shocking to me and goes against everything I believe in.”
“I have known Milo since 2009, when I was introduced to him at TechCrunch by one of their editors (I was a guest columnist). Since then, he started his own publication, The Kernel, and was a strong proponent of skilled immigration and had me write a lengthy piece about my research on this subject. I’ve also known him as a gay who was afraid to step out of the closet and of Jewish descent. So this is not the Milo that I am reading about.”
He stood behind the link he sent to Milo, saying the women behind the Kickstarter campaign “were very good women being attacked unfairly.”
“And on Paul Graham, I still stand behind him—he is a good human being and has done a lot for women. I had sent these to other journalists also because I wanted to set the record straight.”
Milo often looked to virulent racists and fascists for feedback
Who was Yiannopoulos talking to when he wasn’t corresponding with tech and media’s best and brightest? He apparently asked advice from these fine gentlemen:
1. Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer: The system administrator for neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer who asked his followers to disrupt the funeral of Heather Heyer, who was murdered while protesting white nationalists in Charlottesville.
2. Curtis Yarvin: This dude literally wants a return to feudalism. It doesn’t get more reactionary than this, unless some alt-right asshole pushes for mankind to revert to single-celled organisms.
3. Devin Saucier: He helps edit a white nationalist magazine and belonged to “white power wolf cult” (???), one of whose members “pleaded guilty to setting fire to a historic black church.”
He was funded by a family of billionaires
Here are the populists who funded Milo’s rise to the bottom.
In May, Bannon invited Yiannopoulos to Cannes for a week for the film festival. “Want to discuss tv and film with u,” he wrote in an email. “U get to meet my partners, hang on the boat and discuss business.”
The boat was the Sea Owl, a 200-foot yacht owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who is a major funder of Breitbart and various other far-right enterprises. That week, Yiannopoulos shuttled back and forth from the Cannes Palace Hotel to the pier next to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and the green-sterned, “” vessel complete with a Dale Chihuly chandelier.
Here’s why it matters
Yiannopoulos actively sought the advice of white nationalists and neo-Nazis who want to create authoritarian white ethno-states (don’t ask how they plan to “get rid” of America’s many minorities). He was funded by billionaires who helped make his ideas mainstream — enough to catch the ear of “mainstream” journalists, academics, and tech entrepreneurs. And he was guided by Steve Bannon, who was chief strategist to President Donald Trump.
Think about that. According to BuzzFeed, one of Yiannopoulos’ passwords began with “LongKnives1290,” a reference to the night Adolf Hitler ordered the murder of his political enemies and the year King Edward I expelled Jews from England.
This is how racist, sexist, and fascist ideas get smoothed over for public acceptance — and how they worm their way into policy at the highest levels. And many of the people pushing those ideas are ordinary bros who seem like “good guys.”